Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.



Every ecological niche provides a self-evident model of success in adaptation. There’s no theory here, only brute trial and error.


Have you seen the movie Europa Report? It’s really quite good. And provides a fairly believable portrayal of what it might be like when we finally visit the ocean moon orbiting Jupiter.

**Spoiler alert**

Emily wasn’t very impressed with the squid-like alien rising from the 100 kilometer depths, which she thought was too much like life on Earth to be believable. Enter the opportunity to introduce my daughter to the fascinating scientific observation that life has a way of repeatedly finding a similar solution to the same problem. I shared with her the fact that flight has been independently developed at least five times with birds, bats, insects, pterosaurs and humans; eyesight multiple times with various levels of success, and differing, yet quite recognizable design similarities. Another example of this phenomenon is how life fills ecological niches with roughly the same players despite great geological separation and isolation; as with the placental fauna of North America and marsupials of Australia, which parted ways from a common ancestor more than 100 million years ago, yet today form ecologies rife with familiar answers.

So would it be too far flung to expect something squid-like and glowing with bioluminescence to swim up and blink at us when at last we lower cameras into the global ocean covering Europa? Maybe we won’t find squid, though I’ll bet there’ll be plenty down there reminiscent of Spongebob Squarepants to satisfy the claims of convergent evolution.

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